How Does the Devil Fight?
The devil is constantly reinterpreting the circumstances in our lives to cast doubt on God’s goodness and his rule.
The very thought of spiritual warfare frightens some people. They seem to think of the devil as they do Santa Claus or the Easter rabbit. Reality is so much more comfortable if it’s confined to what we can see, observe, and understand. But the New Testament makes no apology for defining a reality with spiritual forces at work. The Apostle Paul, writing to the people he loved in Corinth, stated his concern for their plight while facing doubts about spiritual authority.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
If we can ascertain how the serpent deceived Eve, we can gain insight in how to win in our battles with his attacks.
Basically, the serpent reinterpreted the circumstances in the Garden. There were many trees with fruit on them, matching all of Adam’s and Eve’s needs and tastes. There was another tree that was forbidden to them. You see, the good and sovereign God had created them out of the overflow of His love so that they could enjoy Him fully. They were partners with him on earth will full access to Him. Everything was an expression of his love. The trees offered satisfaction for every possible desire in the couple.
The tree in the midst of the garden offered them a special opportunity: If they would trust God without fully understanding why, they would taste the most delicious delicacy possible for humans: a trusting life together with the One is good, trustworthy, and had their best interests at heart. It would be like dessert after a great meal.
Now, look at how the serpent reinterpreted the circumstances. He implied that God was good, but not totally. “Sure, he has given you all the trees but has forbidden you to eat from some of them. He is holding back on you. His character is in question. He doesn’t want you to be like him. He wants to keep you suppressed from your potential.”
Too often we focus on our unpleasant circumstances and blame them on the devil. It is his distorted interpretation that should draw our attention. Don’t get me wrong. He deceives people and thereby brings pain to others. So many of the horrendous things we do to each other come from deception, which incites weak and fearful people to act wickedly to protect themselves.
But the serpent is not sovereign. God has promised to work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28) The devil is always suggesting an alternate interpretation of what is happening. If we listen, we will become bitter, fearful, angry, vengeful and cynical. Think of all the people you know who are now skeptical of church, government, family and even former friends. Many of them have been hurt according to a distorted interpretation of the events. Now they’re isolated from the very means of their joy.
Let’s review the truth as God has affirmed it.
God is good and sovereign. He is actively involved in the lives we are living. He is always seeking to do us good even when bad things happen.
The devil is real. He is constantly reinterpreting the circumstances in our lives to cast doubt on God’s goodness and his rule. We have the responsibility to resist him and choose to believe the truth — even when we don’t fully understand.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:6b-7)